Corker Says U.S. Must Place Strong Sanctions On Russia; Sees Little Hope For Solving Nation's Debt Problem

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

Speaking to the Chattanooga Rotary Club, United States Senator Bob Corker said, "We have four percent of the world's population but we benefit from 22 percent of the world's gross domestic product."

Senator Corker said this is why keeping stability throughout the world matters. The standard of living would be very different without trade and international commerce.

He said, "It's been fascinating that the American people really haven't cared much about Syria," and called the events that occurred there "one of the great tragedies of this century.


He also said that currently, "Ukraine is an interesting and very special issue." He described the history of the country, detailing when it broke away from the former Soviet Union.

He said, "Back in 1994, Ukraine had been the place where a big part of the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal existed. We signed something called the Budapest Memorandum. We said if you give up your nuclear weapons, we will protect your sovereignty as a nation."

He also said, "It's been a 60-year policy of the United States that Europe is to be a free, whole, and democratic community."

However, he said he was not suggesting military force but strong economic sanctions against Russia. Currently, the United States does nearly $40 billion in trade with Russia each year, while the European Union does over $450 billion.

He said, "They can only survive through the sale of their fossil fuels."

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin had been unpopular until recent years. He said, "What people like him, autocrats, do, is when they're weak within their country, they find an external enemy."

He continued, "He doesn't want people inside Russia to see people moving toward a democratic society." Foreign policy advisors have said that if Ukraine became part of the European Union, it would likely have an effect on the Russian people, causing them to want a more democratic government.

He said, "This is a defining moment relative to our own credibility."

After discussing current foreign policy issues, Senator Corker also addressed the state of domestic issues in the United States.

He said, "I would like to solve the problems that we as a nation have right now," but that he saw "no evidence that we are going to deal with our fiscal situation anytime soon."

He described the country's economic situation regarding debt and inability to pay for entitlement programs as "a calamity in the making." One example he gave was Medicare, saying the amounts people paid into the program did not match with what it is spending.

He said, "People look at Washington and they're dismayed by the lack of progress." He pointed out that the divided state of Washington reflects how polarized the entire country is right now.

He said in terms of the debt, "People are not willing to make the changes that need to be made." He said for anything to be fixed, both Republicans and Democrats are going to have to "hold hands and jump, and the president is going to have to lead the charge. I don't know which president it's going to be."

When asked what his number one goal as a senator is, Senator Corker said, "My number one goal daily is to wake up everyday and to try and put in place policies that make this country stronger...In order to do that, you have to constantly work with people who have a different point of view...I wake up everyday and try to find that common ground."


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